Woody Austin buys out partners Rod and Rick Nuckolls at Willowbend Golf Club

WICHITA — Willowbend Golf Club partner Woody Austin is now the sole owner of the club.

The PGA Tour golfer became a partner with owners and PGA of America members Rod and Rick Nuckolls in early 2010.

At the time, Austin said: “It’s a big, long-term deal for me. It’s nothing on a short-term basis.”

He says he’s been thinking of buying the east-side club outright since then.

“It’s just a natural progression that we were thinking about when I first bought in,” he says.

The Nuckolls brothers have been partners in Willowbend since 2000 and bought out partners Mike and Mark Marney in 2003.

They came close to selling the club to Bert and Eloise Henderson, who approached them as they were preparing to sell their Echo Hills Golf Club in Park City in 2009. The Willowbend deal fell through, though. Shortly after, Austin became a partner.

Austin says he’s been working on getting things in place to take over the club, which he says included establishing Jim Elliott as general manager when he arrived.

Rick Nuckolls will retire, but Rod Nuckolls will remain as director of golf. Austin says the position will switch from a salaried one to hourly pay “so he can get off and get out whenever he wants” to golf.

“Now Rod will have a lot more time on his hands to play golf,” Austin says.

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Willowbend Golf Club sale is off

WICHITA — After much negotiation, the sale of Willowbend Golf Club is off.

“Things didn’t work out,” says Rick Nuckolls, who owns Willowbend with his brother, Rod.

Bert and Eloise Henderson, who are selling their Echo Hills Golf Club in Park City, had planned to buy Willowbend.

“We just decided it wasn’t going to work out best for our family,” says the Hendersons’ daughter, Cheryl Greiving.

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Sale of Echo Hills Golf Club could close soon

WICHITA — It looks like something is close to happening with Echo Hills Golf Club in Park City and, subsequently, Willowbend Golf Club.

Bert and Eloise Henderson, the owners of Echo Hills, are planning to buy Willowbend if the sale of their club goes through.

The Hendersons aren’t commenting yet, but Rod Nuckolls, who owns Willowbend with his brother, Rick, is.

Nuckolls says Bert Henderson “has an option on his land that expires at the end of September.”

“He anticipates his land being sold, and if it does close, we would close next spring,” Nuckolls says.

Mike Loveland, a broker at J.P. Weigand & Sons and the developer of Parkstone at College Hill, wants to use the Echo Hills land for a new commercial project in Park City.

Rod Nuckolls says the Hendersons plan to keep Willowbend operations as they are if they purchase the club.

“Very much so,” he says. “As a matter of fact, we’re excited for the Willowbend members because he won’t have the debt load that we did.”

If the sales go through, the Nuckolls brothers (both of whom play PGA Champions Tour events) have new plans of their own.

“I’m going to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time,” Rick Nuckolls says. “You know what that is? Play golf.”